NFIU: Lawyers help corrupt politicians hide, invest crime proceeds

The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has said that some lawyers in the country help corrupt politicians manage their crime proceeds.

NFIU’s chief operating officer, Dr Emmanuel Shotande, said this at the Nigerian Bar Association sensitization workshop for legal practitioners in Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja.

Shotunde alleged that some lawyers help criminally-minded people to invest and conceal their clients’ proceeds of crimes.

“Unfortunately, why lawyers have a lot of responsibility because some of the lawyers help their clients to buy houses. Criminal-minded people come and invest or conceal their proceeds of crimes using lawyers to buy assets in real estate,” he said.

Shotande also advised lawyers to be diligent in their dealings with politically exposed persons.

He also urged lawyers to be wary of helping politically exposed persons in concealing their crimes, while calling for collaboration between the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), NFIU, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Shotande advised lawyers to report transactions above the stipulated threshold allowed by the law to the EFCC.

He noted that for fruitful and effective collaboration, lawyers must be ready to engage with anti-money laundering agencies for clarification in suspicious dealing.

Speaking at the event, the NBA president, Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), urged lawyers to observe the NBA anti-money laundering guidelines: rules of professional conduct 2023 in handling financial and money laundering matters.

Maikyau charged lawyers to stay at the forefront of fighting corruption in the country as their profession has uniquely bestowed the responsibility on them.

“We are prepared to self-regulate ourselves in terms of the process of fighting corruption. There is no better organ to do that collaboration with than those that are given that responsibility by law to fight corruption.”

Speaking on the guidelines, he explained that asking an individual lawyer what they are doing or having them report to the EFCC or the NFIU as an individual will impair the duty of confidentiality which now impacts the right to a fair hearing.

He said on this note, adhering to the rules of professional conduct, the association resolved to set up the committee.

“The NBA anti-money laundering committee will interface with law enforcement agencies and members of the legal profession.

“Whatever law enforcement agents will require from any lawyer, it will be channelled through this committee and the obligations of lawyers will also be passed through that committee”.

The EFCC chairman, Olanipekun Olukoyede, represented by EFCC director SCUML, Daniel Isei, affirmed that the commission is committed to ensuring that the collaboration yields fighting fraud and corruption to a standstill in the country.

“The framework of collaboration is an international requirement. International framework on money laundering issues calls for collaboration; no agency or body can do it alone.”

The anti-graft agency boss noted that the commission will engage in campaigns to enlighten Nigerians on the risks of financial crimes and other related matters.

The article was originally published on Politics Nigeria.

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